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Scholar Blog: My First Wonderful Rollercoaster Year at University

August 6, 2020 | by Colleen Dube

Vanessa Burns

I have decided to take a moment to reflect on the 2019-2020 academic year: its challenges, triumphs and the changes it has brought along the way.  We are in the midst of a global pandemic while I am sitting at my makeshift desk immersed in a sea of unorganised lecture notes with cold half-cups of coffee and an ever expanding list of to-do’s in my diary.

May 2019 to the present has been a whirlwind to say the least. Upping sticks from rural North East Ireland to the busy educational and cultural hub that is Cork city has been challenging.  Ultimately it has been the best decision I have ever made for my personal and academic expansion.

University College Cork

Prior to my new adventure studying at University College of Cork as a Mature Student, I was content in my work.  Luckily, I had the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those in my care on a daily basis. In spite of this, I knew I had the academic potential to pursue a higher level of education than I had accomplished so far.  I wanted challenge myself to work towards a more mandated role but staying in line with my passion for caring for others.

I applied for the BSc in Speech and Language Therapy programme.  Shortly after my interview I received my place. I cannot describe the happiness I felt to be given the opportunity to finally attain my goal to educate myself further and use that education to help others.

It was the first time I was truly proud of myself and how far I had come. Throughout this journey I have learned the importance of giving oneself credit for the little and the bigger things achieved, from completing my summer examinations, to getting through a three-hour tutorial without yawning!

In addition to the happiness, came the stress and worries about leaving the certainty of everything and everyone to commence my new adventure. Occasionally until the day I moved to Cork, I second-guessed my ability to carry out this undertaking. I managed to overcome these feelings and have completed my first year of university.

Vanessa Burns on placement in the South Infirmary, Cork City

My year was fraught with adversity and challenge, in many domains; financially, mentally, and physically.  My course is and will continue to be demanding on the body and mind. Along with the ever-surmounting workload, I endured two house moves and dealt with a great deal of stress in every aspect of my life. Travelling to and from Cork to my home in rural Cavan was a challenge.  I often struggled to maintain my familial and personal responsibilities, meet my physical needs such as exercising and get adequate sleep.

Despite these challenges, I would not change a thing about my experience to date, assisted by and afforded to me by Uversity.  Without the consistent emotional, academic, and financial support from Uversity, my long standing goal of pursuing further education would simply be a life-long unfulfilled wish.

Upon reflection of my first wonderful rollercoaster year at university as a Mature Student, I would recommend to anyone with a comparable vision to my own: muster the self-belief, just for a moment, to visualise your dream come true, irrespective of circumstance, as the impossible is now possible with Uversity!


Vanessa Burns, 2019 Uversity Scholar

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